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Contempt for the argument that fewer ships in the US Navy today than in 1916 proving that the US Navy is a weaker force than it was in 1916 ...

... seems well-earned contempt.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Wed Oct 24th, 2012 at 10:08:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No matter how good a ship is, it can't be in two places at once. There are very real worries about the US Navy force structure, the shipbuilding plan and so on, and a lot of this worry stems from the superexpensive destroyers/cruisers (who more or less play the role of the battleships of yore) and the Navy refusal to build cheaper frigates instead, something along the lines of the La Fayette class (and don't say Littoral Combat Ship, or I'll scream).

Anyway, I got the feeling that the President just waved away a serious issue in quite a cavalier way, so as to get a nice put-down on Romney.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Oct 26th, 2012 at 04:43:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, modern ships can be in more places during a given time interval than 1916 vintage ships could. Because modern ships are faster.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2012 at 05:29:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They still cannot be in more than one place at any given moment, even if the speed argument you make does make certain sense. Still...

Chris Cavas' interview with Romney surrogate John Lehman last week brought up the fleet size debate once again.  And again, a chorus of observers leaped to their feet to assert that comparing fleet size across the years is irrelevant, pointing to (as this article demonstrates) the increased range of influence a single ship today can exercise, largely through its long range precision weapons.

There is no disputing this.  I give up.  I agree.  Count me in.

To a point.  And that point is, when one considers a fleet in combat--actually killing people and wrecking things--this comparison has merit.

The problem as I see it, is that our Navy spends the overwhelming majority of its time not killing people and wrecking things.  It spends most of its time trying to convince some of the folly of conflict, while convincing others of the certainty of our response in their defense.  In this effort, the range of weapons and sensors--while not irrelevant--is far less relevant than in actual warfighting.  Networks don't scare anyone, and they don't assure anyone.

These functions are most effectively carried out by the presence--seen and inferred--of ships and submarines.  In this pursuit--numbers matter more than networks and CEP.  There has been a good deal of work done recently in assessing the ingredients of conventional deterrence, and what comes up time after time is the preponderance of force levels IN THE REGION in question.  Ships in Norfolk matter less than ships in the neighborhood, just as troops at Fort Drum matter less than troops in the region.  This is the entire premise upon which forward presence is built.

If one values forward presence, then fleet size MUST matter.



Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Oct 27th, 2012 at 10:57:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Tl;dr version: If you want gunboat diplomacy, you need moar gunboats.

But I don't, so I don't.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Oct 27th, 2012 at 12:03:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Antipathy to US foreign policy which results in a lack of such policy from the US doesn't mean the end of gunboat diplomacy. It only means someone else will fill the vacuum, left by the US Navy.

And someone must protect the sea lines of communication if international is to be possible.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Oct 27th, 2012 at 12:14:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
international trade

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sat Oct 27th, 2012 at 12:15:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is, however, some space between total withdrawal from foreign affairs and routinely anchoring large fleets offshore from other people's capitals to intimidate them.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Oct 27th, 2012 at 12:51:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what we have seen the gunboat policy of today depends less on scaring the general population and more on scaring the political and military elite. If anything being visibly intimidating decreases the political space for the local elite to find their interests perfectly aligned with those of the US. And surely the local elite can realise the odds without parading boats outside their capital?

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by A swedish kind of death on Sat Oct 27th, 2012 at 01:00:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently Romney's naval advisor builds ships for the Navy. I don't think a serious debate was on the cards.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2012 at 05:36:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, nobody would want to hear that:



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by A swedish kind of death on Fri Oct 26th, 2012 at 08:38:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you think that Romney - or the general viewers - were interested in having having a serious debate on Navy shipbuilding strategy in the context of multiple strategic risks you might have a point. But then I don't think you know what US Presidential debates are all about.

A separate point is that navy ships and submarines and aircraft carriers carry planes and missiles with ranges sufficient to ensure that you don't have to be in two places at once in most foreseeable instances.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Oct 26th, 2012 at 08:53:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd look for an increase in boat numbers more than ship numbers ~ like the role that the 88 foot Stiletto was an experimental platform for.

Dump the Marine Expeditionary Force equipment and put in a well-deck / dry slip elevator, and the four boat mothership capacity of a modern version of the Whidby Island class Dock Landing Ship ought to be able to be increased to eight or more boats.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Oct 26th, 2012 at 05:29:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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